Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

I remember watching the movie “What Women Want” ages ago (starring Mel Gibson) and i thought it was pretty funny, though stereotypical.  However, it suddenly struck me again recently that the concept really isn’t too far from the truth.

Ever thought about what the world wants? I’ve looked around at the people surrounding me and thought that to myself many times.  What are they looking out for?  What do they want to achieve?  What do they seem to want to achieve, by their actions, even though they don’t openly admit it?  Granted that my world really is quite small (to paraphrase J.S. Mill, my world is simply the society and the people around me), but as small as Singapore is, i suppose this is already an appropriate sample size.

I guess if you were to ask them specifically what they want, they might have an answer to it…at first.  Of course we all do; we want the Cash, Condo, Country Club, Car, Credit Card, etc.  Or maybe other people prefer more simple lives with less ambitions.  Maybe such people like myself have to live with smaller ambitions because we know that we can’t fulfill them.  Or that we just like having life kept simple.  Or for many other reasons, all of which could or could not be valid – we’ll never know.

But when we ask further, i think the wisdom in simplicity is actually quite profound.  For example, using the ambitions above (though not all people have them, and those who have them are not necessarily like that), maybe if you were to ask someone who desires the 5C’s, why he wants them, he might answer “So that i can live a comfortable life without worry.”  Logical? Perhaps.  True?  I’m not too sure.  With that much finances at your disposal, one would normally want more.  With that much to lose, one would be more afraid.  I’d venture a guess and probably infer that they don’t really know what they want – they’re just following the majority.  Something like “if everyone wants it, then it can’t be wrong”, which is ironic, really.  So (possibly) because they can’t decide for themselves, they choose what is the generally accepted-as-desirable-and-respectable ends.

I read in some book in my teens about a story of a farmer and a rich man, and (you guessed it) how the farmer was so much happier than the rich man for no other reason than he had what he wanted.  There was also a comic strip on Calvin and Hobbes (All hail Bill Watterson!) where Calvin asks Hobbes “If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?”, and Hobbes replies “A sandwich”.

Obviously Calvin is outraged. He is an ambitious little boy, though he’s only six years old.  “A sandwich?! Why would you wish for a sandwich? You could have anything in the world – power! Fame! Money! RIches! Woman! Why would you wish for a #*$&#%#$ SANDWICH!?”  And the last panel shows Hobbes munching on two slices of bread with peanut butter smeared inbetween them, calmly commenting “I got my wish”.

But life isn’t that simple right?  We’re not stuffed tigers living with 6-year-olds who haven’t aged at all over 10 years and suddenly disappear from the (comic book) world – Mr. Watterson, just so you know, we still miss C&H very very much.  We grow old, and we end up with responsibilities of families, jobs, parents, and so on.  Having wishes and ambitions could them be seen as important as we need to have a goal to work to, not just a “sandwich”.

However, i have digressed from my original intention here – what it seems that the world wants isn’t really very much.  I think it’s quite evident how much society values thinking independently, when people want decisions to be made for them.  Of course decisions like “where to eat meals” are ok, but the decisions in question are usually those rather important ones – such as career paths, expenditure, housing.  It’s even reflected some NUS students when they complain “why can’t i have all my modules allocated to me so that i don’t have to decide on what to take each semester?”  I for one was very appreciative of the few modules i had the choice to take, because i took what i knew i’d find interesting and enjoyed it immensely.  But what frightens me is that the impression of having the choices made for you is deemed as highly desirable. Scholars get their career paths chosen for them, and things like that.  Nothing wrong with scholars, but i’m not too sure of the implications of this – doesn’t this mean that the people who will be effectively running the country in future (since we are a meritocratic society) have hardly made important decisions regarding life choices on their own?  Isn’t that a dangerous thing to do – to place someone who cannot manage his own future in authority to manage a country’s?

It seems that the majority of people want things decided for them.  Simply because they really don’t know what they want.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking what really matters to us and what we want, and more importantly, why we’re doing it.

Exam Rant: Is it just me or do people seem to do really annoying things during the exam like cough unconvincingly and excessively every few seconds (but stop the minute the invigilator threatens to move you somewhere else) or tap feet so loudly on the floor that the people sitting three columns away can hear the sounds of the shoes against the floor?  It’s evident that the people i’ve seen doing it are so much more easily annoyed by things of a smaller magnitude, but they still do the things they do anyway.

That aside, i gave some thought on how we talk to people, mainly incited by those very insistent-that-they-are-right people in my philo class tutorial.  Something just strikes me, is that how some in the class can hold a decent discussion within the group whereas some always seem to be in the middle of a fight.  I guess it boils down to a few things:

Tone.  The tone of your voice is very important.  There is a stark difference between a firm and fierce tone, a teaching and condescending tone, and so on.  I seriously doubt people will have the inclination to listen to you should you carry the latter of the pairs mentioned above.  And very often your tone is affected by the next point, which is…

Attitude.  I always believed that one’s attitude toward something is probably the biggest factor in doing that something.  To quote an old teacher, “There are two things that play an important part in any task – aptitude and attitude.  If you have the aptitude but the wrong attitude, you get nowhere; but if you have the right attitude, you can overcome lack of aptitude”.  I think it would apply to humans as well – how you view the person affects how you treat that person, whether your view be right or wrong.  And this is actually very key to talking to people, even though few people notice it.  The best conversations i’ve had are with people who never assume a higher position than you unless talking in a authoritative context – it’s always as equals. The attitude also plays a part in how you speak, which is reflected in your…

Choice of words.  This actually is very evident through the tone and induced by the attitude that one takes toward to other party in the conversation.  Very often one can tell the intentions of the person, or the relationship between those in conversation by the way they talk (or in some cases, endure) each other.  Surely there must be a better way of expressing self in words which do not harm, hurt or damage the person in any other way.  One may claim “this is the way i talk”; no, the grammar you use is the way you talk, the attitude you take affects what you say – they’re two distinct things.  I’ve known of people who have very little education, are professed and acknowledged full fledged ah bengs and they speak in a mix of hokkien, cantonese, mandarin and broken english, and yet still speak more politely than some people in NUS.  World Class University indeed.  To make the other party understand you, you must speak at a level and in a context that both can understand – that’s why some people “just don’t click”, because one or the other are inflexible in this area.

Conversation, much like debating, is a skill.  It’s a skill that few have achieved in this area and even fewer have recognized the distinction between the two, and that’s why it’s so hard these days to have a conversation without disagreement on the words people use, the definitions they take, the tone and the attitude.

Fail-proof method: assume that you are talking to someone who knows more than you, but don’t take them at their words right away if you’re dealing with some form of knowledge (which is usually the case).  Don’t disagree with them if it’s their opinion, and feel free to express your own, making sure that you let them know that your opinion is by no means a definition or truth.

And finally, learn to listen.

The grouch i mean.

These days i find myself increasing intolerant of many things.  Despite all the rants one might have read on my blog, there was a great deal of pondering and introspection before i actually put them up.  Some of them i took down, and some of them i think i might have not even put up had i be in a clearer frame of mind.

Perhaps introspection isn’t perfect, and perhaps it will never be.  Hardly anything is anyway.

I keep thinking maybe i’m being too judgemental.  Maybe it’s just that i’m facing a lot of unknowns that pressure me and thus i feel the grump ease up inside me.  Maybe it’s the stress induced feelings that cause me to feel that way.  How can it be that i find things to be annoyances while seemingly everyone else laughs at them and finds them so very amusing and entertaining? In the crowd i do all i can to smile and take it light-heartedly, hoping no one will see the strain behind the smile and that whoever it is stops it soon before i crack. But after a whole lot of things cleared off from my back, i find myself still not being able to stomach the same things that happen.

People who make unnecessary noise, or make some sound of sorts blatantly loud.  People who start going all ecstatic and then lose control of themselves and stop using their brains.  People who just simply don’t think.  People who ask for instructions and then don’t follow them.  People who behave manja, whether deliberate or not.  People who are so full of themselves or who think they’re so damn bloody good.  I’ve blogged about so many things that i’ve clean forgotten some of them.  Some of these things i even found amusing at one point of time; i’m sorry to say that i don’t now.  Some of these i never found funny in any aspect, and i hope i never do.

Maybe it’s the inconsiderate aspect of it.  Maybe it’s the thoughtlessness of the act.  Maybe it’s the way it affects other people and the do-er doesn’t realize it.  Maybe it’s just plain stupidity and idiocy, or a lack of respect.  Maybe because i see it more these days than i used to (which is really weird because i haven’t been around at all).  Maybe it’s selfishness on the person’s part, or on mine.  I really don’t know why it irks me so, and part of me really doesn’t care – i just want to be rid of it somehow, even if it comes at some sort of cost (not necessary monetary).

But whatever it is, i think happiness is not an excuse for thoughtlessness, nor is ability an excuse for arrogance, nor is frustration an excuse for callousness of words, any more than the fact that i have a mouth justifies usage of insulting phrases to another party under all conditions.

It took just one person (and a family of turtles) to wake me up from that state and i hereby vow to be not so grouchy anymore.  If people want to be jerks i will let them be jerks until they really encroach upon my personal dignity and privacy, and then woe betide them for there be pwnage in the near future! Rawr!

Read on for more (not necessarily of the same thing)!

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I took a swim today, and as i enjoyed the slow pace as i sailed through the water, though mildly annoyed at how much water skills and stamina i had lost as it really was a very slow pace.

At one point of time i stopped and realized that there was no one in the pool but me. I enjoyed the serenity for a while…and then i suddenly felt like all my dreams seemed so small.

I want to become a teacher. I want to share what i believe in, what i know to the next generation, touching each life one by one, and watching them eventually grow up.  But suddenly that seems so small.

I want to be physically fit, that i will never have to depend on another to carry me, but be able to carry others along.  Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well, so that i can be a lighthouse to people around me, and make it matter to one more life at a time.  But that too seemed so small.

I want to be financially secure, and make my wife and family happy, that they will never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, or whether we will still have the house a year from now, or whether we have to forgo things that we would greatly enjoy.  I want to give back to the family that raised me and make my parents and my little bro happy (and he will always be little to me, despite his protests) with what i can.  But that seemed even smaller.

And as i kicked off from the wall again, i realized i was like my many dreams – just one of many floating in the middle of the big blue swimming pool of life, pushed around by the waves from the wind or splashes from the entrance of other swimmers.  Sometimes totally disrupted by unruly people, sometimes allowed to carry on their way and finally reach the end as i eventually did.  But before they do, they still float about and they are small things in the swimming pool, just a drop of water or a lone swimmer.

But as a lone swimmer in the swimming pool is, they are unable to reach both the beginning and the end, and must travel over time and space to reach the end, where they will be realized.  You can possibly form a human chain (or a dream chain, as we are in the figurative here) and touch end to end of the swimming pool, but it takes considerable effort for each one and a significant number of people.  I only have a handful who are close and share my dreams; and i dare say we can only reach a third or less of the “pool”.

So my dreams continue to float….and they seem so small.

But one day they will reach.  I believe they will.  And even if they don’t i would have covered a little bit more distance in reaching it.  Maybe someone would continue from there, maybe not.  But i refuse to let something like that dash my dreams.  My dreams are for me to “swim” toward, for me to reach the end, and no one can blame me for trying.

One day perhaps i’ll touch the “end” and feel the “sun” upon my face, then end my “swim” and get out of the “pool”…but that someday is not today.

Today i “swim”.

And so i swam.

Helping

I think it stupid to tell someone to “just do it” when he’s in need of help or something.

If he’s seeking for help, then it’s not like he hasn’t tried right? It’s like telling the starving poor that they really should eat else they’ll die of hunger.

I think it’s much more useful to ask what’s the problem and help him with it, than to pass statements like that and expect him to solve it himself, when he’s already tried.

I was in the middle of my philosophy essay for my term paper when i had a few thoughts and so i thought i’d just blog them here before i get back to my essay.  Would be a welcome update to the blog which has been lying fallow anyway.

I have a problem with a lot of people, as evidenced from my previous posts.  I don’t hate them, just the things they do, and one of those things are when they fight for every point in conversations.  It’s different when it’s a truthful disagreement, or a disagreement for a continuation and exploration of discussion in conversation, but i must admit that it’s a very fine line between being expressive and being downright rude and disagreeing for disagreements’ sake, just to prove that you can and you will win.

Which brings me to my next pet peeve; winning fights. I think one should choose the battles to fight, and not for the sake of winning alone, but also for doing the other person the most good one can.  Of course, that may be subjective, but there are some things that would clearly better a fellow friend to allow him to achieve potential.  Personally, i don’t have to be right all the time.  Neither will i press to fight for being the victor in an argument.  It’s different if it’s a competition, but some times i just see no point in arguing with people.  The best kind of victory in an argument? When you state your point and everyone else agrees with you and fights for you.  Believe me, the sense of satisfaction there is way better than exhausting yourself in a pointless debate where the other person refuses to let up and nothing gets done or agreed on.

Exams are coming up!  It’s the season where people start mugging and camping in places that cause undesirable smells in the vicinity.  It’s also the time where people start being inconsiderate to others around them, and/or start looking for shortcuts in getting things done, like asking for answers etc. 

In fact, i didn’t have to wait for exams to get that kind of requests – a particular someone had been asking me to borrow my term papers and assignments from a module i took so that he could “refer” to them.  I told him the questions would probably be different and he said they were the same. So i said i wasn’t going to give him my solutions because that would be cheating, but if he gave me his answers i could tell him where he went wrong in his assumptions.  Instead, he insisted that i gave him the answers and called me stupid and selfish when i refused flatly.  This coming from someone who has a second-upper class honours (him, not me), i think i now know how you managed to keep your grades there. Listen, if you’re reading this, i’m not here to help you to cheat.  I’ve seen you in action and stopped you more than once and i don’t like your “know-it-all” attitude that you take just because you cheat and get away with it.  I may not be able to do anything about you directly, but i don’t think i have to – what goes around comes around.

But back to the exams point.  Let’s try to make the exam season a little more pleasant for other people, but extending a helping hand (not cheating) to those who are in the same course/module as you.  Study together, help each other out legitimately.  Tell them off if they’re doing something ethically wrong.  But just because you’re having a hard time, doesn’t mean you can’t make it an easier time for yourself and other people at the same time by helping each other out. 

Not for dubious intentions though.  I know of people who would.

“A 1993 Harvard study showed that the amount of time a father spends with his children can actually affect their ability at math, and that children whose fathers encourage them at sports are more successful in their adult careers.”
– Time Magazine, 16 April 2007

I’m thankful for mine, and i find this extremely cool.  But you know what’s cooler? His reply:

Go and conquer the world.

One life at a time, dad…one life at a time 🙂

Well my headache hasn’t been going away. It was relieved for a while over the weekend, but once sunday night came along and i went for a run, it came back promptly after i cooled down.

On top of that, my feet have blisters from the run.  How that happened i have no idea – i’ve only gotten blisters from running once, and that was because my toenails were long enough to scrape against the adjacent toe.

At least work is coming under way and i’m looking forward to Warriors Orochi, having finished God of War:Chains of Olympus the day after i got it.

I’m not so bothered by the fact that NUS’s administration is freakingly slow anymore.  If they don’t want me then i’ll just have to hope that MOE will, but it also makes me realize that i don’t have much of a contingency plan should both fail.  Time to start looking around.

For now, i think i’ll be taking Panadol a bit more regularly.

I posted previously on how i believe Christians would have a hard time in this world…some people seem to have a different idea about it and all, but perhaps i wasn’t clear enough because other people have misquoted my intentions.

Yes, i believe we will have a hard time.  But just because you’re being criticized and things are not going smooth doesn’t mean that you are on the right path!  It’s a cause and effect thing, where the effect is the hard times;  if hard times exist it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing the right thing.

So please, when people give you feedback, or when people have something to say, don’t fight back defensively.  Drop the ego and listen to what they have to say, listen to your friend’s hearts and stop the damn preaching, because what you preach doesn’t follow what you do.  I don’t suppose you ever thought that people are having a hard time BECAUSE of you, and none of us have any right to give someone else a hard time.

Walk your damn talk and stop thinking you’re perfect.  Seriously.  My confidence in my faith is dropping drastically because of you.  Don’t keep assuming that people are against you because you’re taking God’s path – it’s something significant when the main bulk of the people against you are mature believers and those for you are usually not.

I know i’m not the only one who feels this, but i openly say it, wearing my heart on my sleeve.  If i’m wrong i’ll freely admit it coz i don’t want to be two-faced.

Those who are hungry for power never wield it well.  Because in the world of man, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I had, and still have, a problem with being unappreciated for things that i do for others’ benefit.

It’s a very familiar scene that i face, for some friend to message me online and start complaining about things that are totally unrelated to me, but it’s part of their life so they’re entitled to.  What they’re not entitled to, and often what they tend to do, is expect me to solve the problem for them, even though they rarely take my advice.  Often i get rebuked for “slamming them in their face” or “pretending to know something i don’t”, which i can’t really avoid since they bring the problem up, can i?

It is amidst the slaving over projects in the past, listening to the whinings and so on that i learn that being unappreciated often goes along with being a friend – there are few (but they exist!) that would reciprocate to that level.  I don’t expect all to, but from the few “thank yous” that i’ve gotten i can assure you that it feels much better having heard it.  It’s easy to delude self (and that goes for me and the people on the receiving end who refuse to listen to any form of advice) and say that everything’s going to be ok, but you know deep inside there’s a simple problem that you just have to face head-on.

So it wasn’t surprising when i read a devotional that told me to expect to be not appreciated.  What did strike me was this:

The world doesn’t notice servants; it notices celebrities

Ok you and i both know that statement’s an over-generalization, but the point is there – the people who are most noticed often aren’t really the people who serve.  Granted there are exceptions, but it’s true.  Makes me think of all the people whose names really echo around and what they really stand for.  Some are worthy of mention, some not.  Some merely popular because of the acting they have to portray themselves in a certain way, or the gossip they spread to make others seem less likeable.

Kinda interesting isn’t it?  We don’t notice the servants.

Or at least, the world doesn’t.